Hello, Internet chums. It's me again. There have been so many things I've been dying to comment on in the wider culture, but simply have not had time. But good things will come to those who wait, I promise (insert sound of people waiting with bated breath here).
Anyway, here's what's been going on:
Cub Scouts: I've decided to become a Cub Scout leader because hey, I really needed something to do on the one night of the week which I have always kept open. Seriously, I am always looking for good ways to invest in my sons and Scouts seems to be an ideal way of doing this. And if I'm going to be involved in something, I'd just as soon lead it. So I've been spending a bit of time getting up to speed on how it all works (since the closest I ever came to being a Scout was a subscription to Boys Life magazine), and getting all the necessary certifications.
Gardening: Karen and I have a modest garden each year: beans, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. We've been canning salsa, pickles, and enchilada sauce until we are sick of it, often in the evenings after the kids go to bed.
School: School started for our oldest three again a week or so ago and we are all still adjusting. I'm going to be the driver for my eldest and her best friend a couple mornings a week, and school is starting an hour earlier for her than last year.
Weight Loss: I'm in a weight loss contest with Karen and the other two members of the church office staff. I'm reliably in 2nd place these days, after leading for a couple weeks, though the gap between me and the leader gets a little smaller each week. $500 goes to the overall winner on December 30th, so I'm highly motivated. So far, I'm down 19.6 lbs in 8 weeks, and hitting the treadmill very hard as often as I can. A few months back, my dad gave me a book called Die Fat or Get Tough which does a great job of polarizing the choice. I'm trying to make the latter, obviously.
Deer Hunting Prep: The season doesn't start till October 1st, but I've been busy hanging stands and getting ready just the same. I'm hoping this is the year I tag the Booner that's running on my hunting spot...
Testing: My GI doc continues to think that the medication I'm taking isn't doing much to actually bring my Crohn's disease into full remission, though it is keeping a lid on it a bit, and most preventing it from being a lot worse. So I've had a colonoscopy, a number of blood tests and, on Monday, an MR enterography to determine just exactly where we are in the progress of the disease. I won't know for a while yet, but the doc wants to keep me from the negative possibilities, as do I. I'm still not feeling my best due to after-effects of the test, but hopefully those will prove short-lived.
Pastoring: I've been organizing small groups, planning a baptism service, visiting the sick and bereaved, counseling the married but struggling and the single and lonely, trying to minister to the local skateboard kids who visit almost daily, overseeing building renovations, praying over numerous people, building friendships with those who are new to church, studying for two classes and one sermon each week, and trying to encourage the downhearted, spur the wandering to repentance, and lead the lost to the Savior.
Family: Sara is doing well with life right now, though I can already see the beginnings of the awkward years starting to draw near. She has a great group of friends from good families and an easy time with school, but I pray daily for her transition to young womanhood. Ashley is struggling right now with the realization that some of the kids at school are sometimes mean, which is pretty tough for a kid who till recently floated through life without a care. John is still getting used to being a first grader, though he recently proclaimed that he thought it all entirely "too easy." He's well on his way to being sans front teeth and has gotten really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and kung-fu. It's a rare day when I'm not tackled, karate chopped, or roundhouse kicked by one of the boys. Nate is full of life and feeling a bit lost in the shuffle I think. He's convinced that at 4 he should be old enough for school and he's really missing having his brother and sisters home to play with. I fill in as substitute playmate/kung-fu dummy/Tickle Monster when I come home at lunch every day. And Karen? Well, she's still the woman who makes my heart pound every day I get to spend with her.
I turn 37 today. It's funny to think about that, because I still feel 23, despite the receding hairline, the mid-life paunch, the grey in my beard and what's left of my hair, and the four kids that I can't possibly be old enough to have. I remember my dad turning 37 and thinking he was an old man (after all, I was 14 at the time!). Funny how times slips away, as the song goes. Yet I'm also deeply, overwhelmingly blessed.